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Groenewegen wins Tour de France sprint as Philipsen relegated for swerve

The pack of riders outside Macon (Marco BERTORELLO)
The pack of riders outside Macon (Marco BERTORELLO)

Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen won stage six of the Tour de France on Thursday after an eye-catching run though Burgundy ended in a feisty mass dash for the finish line in Dijon.

Overnight leader Tadej Pogacar retains the yellow jersey by 45sec from Belgian Remco Evenepoel while defending champion Jonas Vingegaard is third at 50sec.

Rounding out the top five are Spaniard Juan Ayuso and Pogacar's Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic.

Groenewegen powered straight ahead with his head down but kept his run straight as he wore an unusual black aerodynamic nosefoil or 'beak'.

"I've lost some sprints like that, man-to-man, but I was just a bit better than Jasper Philipsen today," Groenewegen said.

Philipsen was originally second at the line in Dijon, but was relegated for a swerve that almost took Wout van Aert out during the dash for the line.

"That's a bad habit of his," said Visma's van Aert.

"I would be angry if there were no sanctions. He does not need to be thrown out of the race for me, but a declassification is appropriate."

Ahead of Thursday's race Bahrain-Victorious voiced discontent over Phil Bauhaus's 13 point penalty in the green sprinters' jersey race after he was judged to have deviated from his line dangerously on stage five.

They felt three other riders made similar deviations without being penalised and insisted on this point to the race commissioners outside their bus.

Thursday's decision means green jersey wearer Biniam Girmay was promoted to second.

"It's great that different sprinters win each time. I'm hoping to keep the jersey as long as possible and it makes it easier that way," said Girmay.

The two previous sprints on the Tour were record breakers with the 39-year-old Mark Cavendish winning his 35th career stage on the Grand Boucle on Wednesday.

On stage three Eritrean Girmay became the first black African to win a stage on the race.

In 2020, Groenewegen, 31, was banned for nine months for his role in a near-fatal crash that sent Fabio Jakobsen over a safety barrier and into a metal post at the Tour of Poland.

Jayco-AlUla's Groenewegen claimed his sixth Tour victory less than three weeks after winning the Dutch national road race title.

- Evenepoel time trial 'favourite' -

Intermittent showers with temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) spared the extreme heat of the opening days but Vingegaard's team Visma frequently upped the tempo when the roads narrowed, causing stressful gaps in the peloton.

There was also a single hill on the 163km route, just outside of Macon, in a category four climb taken by polka dot climbers' jersey wearer Jonas Abrahamsen.

Friday's seventh stage is a 25km individual time-trial from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey Chambertin through open countryside and vineyards just to the south of Dijon.

Although those 25.3km are raced on largely flat terrain the nature of the excercise guarantees a shake up of the overall standings.

Mindful how draining media duties can be leader Pogacar failed to fulfil his full interview obligations, and instead fled back to his bus with Friday's crucial time trial clearly in mind.

He did speak briefly at the finish line however.

"I checked out this time trial, it's really physical, not really about aerodynamics," said Pogacar.

"Remco is world champion and constantly shows why, so he's favourite, not me.

"Today was stressful with the cross winds, I just tried to keep out of trouble," he added.

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